Shot exclusively in North Carolina and featuring a soundtrack of all North Carolina musicians, Son Of Clowns is a story about an artist coming home and his struggle to find his place there. I spent some time with the director, Evan Kidd.
Did North Carolina feel like the obvious choice for the location?
North Carolina is home for me. I was born and raised in the Raleigh, NC area (aka the Triangle) where a good chunk of Son of Clowns takes place. Because this was such a personal and connected film for me, it only made sense that it was rooted in the very place I called home.
Tell about the writing process. Did you have a fully formed idea from the off, or started and let the story guide you?
I always try to be an open vessel for a story to come into. I had the original idea while out on a run, in a “jolt of inspiration” kinda way. But it was just a longline. I knew in order to find the rest of this story out there in the universe I needed to embark into the writing process. And get my hands dirty.
How did you start making your film? Did you shoot mostly in chronological order?
We shot the film in just 10 production days back in June of 2015. All out of order as is the usual haha. It was a truly magical experience and extra special to me just because it was my first feature film, and the cast & crew I had were rockstars. Everyone was doing it on a volunteer basis which I think let some light shine in that doesn’t always make it through the cracks of production. There were no ego’s, expectations, or drama. Just the film, and a story that everyone on that set wanted to tell.
Where did the character Hudson Cash come from?
Hudson came from a variety of places. I would say there is a lot of me in Hudson, but all the same he is a piece of fiction. I wouldn’t compare everything I do to him, just elements here and there. I liken creating a character to cooking. I drop an ingredient here and there, etc. Eventually something sticks out that makes sense. There are trace pieces of myself in all my characters however, and it’s fairly amusing for me to re-watch certain films of mine years later and see things even I didn’t relate to at the time.
The trailer looks amazing. I’m interested in the relationship with your cinematographer, could you tell me about it?
I actually really enjoy that trailer because it creates this aura of mystery around Hudson and the whole film really. So many trailers give the movie away before you watch so I wanted to steer clear of that.
Regarding cinematography I was fortunate to work with a great DP Ned Phillips, who is also a North Carolina guy. Ned’s got a great eye for helping me find a shot. I would come in with the type of shot I wanted mapped out and Ned would add the finesse. It was fantastic. I hope to work with Ned many more times going forward.
You make a point about featuring local North Carolina musicians. Was that important to you?
Aside from the fact that I’m a drummer since childhood, made a documentary about an NC music scene, and just all around love the variety of tunes you get in the state, you could say I kind of like music. I’m from the area, and can’t get enough of the unique sounds here. It’s a crossroads for so many genres.
Because of that I wanted to tap into that collective and harness the energy. Son of Clowns was such a blended film, and one that was literally rooted in North Carolina in the very storyline. I knew there was no other place I’d rather pull the sounds from than home.
What have you learned about yourself as a filmmaker now the film is complete?
That it is indeed possible to make a feature film in just ten production days with no money. It’s just really damn hard.
Honestly that. Really. The whole production felt like a wrinkle in time, as if it had not happened at all once we wrapped. I feel that was because of how focused we all were during the process. Afterwards real life feels kind of odd. I want to make films that take me and the people I work somewhere again like that for the next billion times I do this thing.
How has the festival circuit been treating you?
It’s been amazing. I’ve gotten to travel to several amazing locations from exploring my home state of North Carolina to getting out to Los Angeles, Atlanta, and more. I enjoy every festival because each crowd experiences and reacts to this film in their own way. It’s rewarding to watch and engage with their takeaways in the Q&As afterwards.
How do you expect Son Of Clowns to be received?
I hope each individual watches it differently. I truly believe that no two people watch a given film the same way. Not all films are for everyone too. I hope the people who need to see this film see it. People it will touch and connect with. It’s a complex story for sure, and while it’s got it’s share of comedy it goes to some dark places too.
However it’s a human story at the end of the day. Many out there want can connect to that. At festivals I get comments from multiple crowds telling me thats their favourite aspect of Son of Clowns. I wanted to make something real and not artificial, as many of our films seem to be heading towards that direction these days.
What’s next for you?
Thats a great question for this particular moment in time! Things are wild. Right now we are putting the finishing touches on that elusive fourth stage of film production called promotion. We just premiered Son of Clowns internationally this August at the Chichester Film Festival in the UK. It was awesome simply because of the fact that Maggie Smith (aka: Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter) gave the welcome at for the festival. I was starstruck.
From there we play at two pretty big festivals this fall starting out in Los Angeles with the Action on Film Festival and finally bringing it back home for the 2016 Cucalorus Film Festival in November. Afterwards we release Son of Clowns for the world to see on Amazon Prime come November 15th. Be sure to stay tuned and add it to your watchlist then!
I’m also finishing work on a three year documentary project entitled Run of the Picture. I just came back from filming with our subject Johnny Dutch at the Olympic Trails this past July in Eugene, Oregon which was absolutely both parts intense and rewarding. We’ll be sharing this film and Johnny’s journey in 2017. Between that I am also working on a pilot for a TV show I am writing as well as a new feature about dreams. Oh. And buying out all the Trader Joe’s coffee as I work in the meantime.
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